New program has EMS, not NYPD, taking the lead on non-violent mental health calls in parts of Manhattan

Local News

NEW YORK — NYPD officers will stay out of many mental health crisis calls, with EMS social workers responding instead in parts of Manhattan.

One in five New Yorkers struggle with mental illness, and 154,000 calls for help with mental illness came in to 911 dispatchers last year alone.

Some of those calls escalate to violence or even death, including the shooting deaths of Miguel Richards, Susan Miller or Deborah Danner. All suffered from mental illness, all were shot by NYPD officers during encounters inside their homes.

To help quell this kind of response, the city is changing who it is that’s responding.

The NYPD will no long be the leading agency responding to 911 calls for non-violent mental health calls; instead it will be EMS and social workers taking the lead.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said sending mental health professionals to these types of calls is crucial.

The city is launching the groundbreaking initiative in Harlem and East Harlem, where most mental health calls come from — at least 7,400 last year.

Director of Thrive New York Susan Herman is the director of Thrive New York, the citywide program committed to closing what it calls critical gaps in mental health care.

“We will know very soon whether or not this model is a good model,” she said.

The teams are being trained and will roll out soon. If it’s a success, the city plans on using this model citywide.

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